South Africa continues to have one of the highest rates of HIV infection globally, with approximately 1,000 new infections per day; in some hyperendemic settings, prevalence rates are more than 36%. Women are disproportionally affected by HIV in South Africa; of the 7.5 million adults living with HIV, 4.7 million, or 62.67% were women. New HIV infections among young women aged 15–24 years were more than double those among young men: 69,000 new infections among young women, compared to 25,000 among young men (UNAIDS, 2018). The understanding of sexual violence as a major determinant of sexual transmission and vulnerability is increasing, which highlights the need for a more comprehensive approach to sexuality education that includes sexual and reproductive health topics but also addresses issues of gender based violence (de Oliveira, Kharsany, Gräf, et al, 2017).
The South Africa School-Based Sexuality and HIV Prevention Education Activity is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Education Development Center (EDC), with support from Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD). The Activity works to address the alarming rates of HIV infection in South Africa, especially among adolescent girls and young women, by partnering with the South African Department of Basic Education to increase consistency of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) implementation in the public school system. This is done through a number of activities, including the development, piloting and implementation of CSE scripted lesson plans for grades 4-12. In addition to the lesson plans and related teacher training, the project implements a series of supporting activities, such as a coaching and mentoring activities for teachers, school management team trainings and parent group meetings, and linkage activities to applicable child-friendly services.
The presentation will feature the work of this health education Activity on response to and prevention of gender-based violence and school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) with younger learners (ages 10-14) and older learners (ages 14-19) through the CSE program that has reached 380,000 students and 4,500 teachers as of mid-2019. This will include experiences and lessons learned about how CSE scripted lessons and relevant teacher training can promote safe and healthy relationships, both at home and at school, by addressing how gender norms are learned, understanding and responding to bullying, exploring the impact of stereotypes, and understanding the links between gender norms, relationships and violence.